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Cartoonists are seldom kind to political op- 
ponents. Here a southern sympathizer por- 
trays Lincoln as the "Federal Phoenix" gain- 
ing life from the ashes of the Constitution 
and other presumably destroyed rights. 



Lincoln's election in 1860 led to a breach 
between northern and southern states that 
resulted in secession even before he was 
inaugurated in 1861. This cartoon shows the 
President-elect in the position of a man trying 
to seal the split with "Union Glue." Although 
the fact probably was unknown to the car- 
toonist, Lincoln was familiar with the cabinet- 
maker's art because it had been one of his 
father's trades. 

OLD ABE: "Oh, it's all well enough to say 
that I must support the dignity of my high 
office by force — but it's darned uncomfortable 
sitting, I can tell yer." After he was elected 
in 1860 and before he took office, the still 
unbearded Lincoln received this undignified 
treatment. Although the portrayal of Lincoln 
emphasizes his homely and unsophisticated 
qualities, it also shows the dilemma of the 
President-elect as the nation faced the threat 
of war. 

In this Currier & Ives poster for the election of 1860, Lincoln "The Railsplitter" is shown defeating 
the other three presidential candidates, Bell. Douglas, and Breckinridge. The candidates are probably 
playing "one old cat" or "town ball," one of the predecessors of baseball, and the "National Game" 
referred to in the caption is politics. It is often said that baseball made great strides toward earning 
the title of "national game" when it was played extensively by troops during the war which followed 
Lincoln's election. 



"Now, if you don't come down, I'll cut the 
Tree from under you." 


This double view of Lincoln's inaugural address in 1861 was drawn by Thomas Nast and 
is generally considered his first political cartoon. Earlier he had been a news illustrator 
(like a news photographer today I, but during and after the Civil War he achieved renown 
as perhaps the finest cartoonist in the L nited States. 


The art of cartooning and caricature was scarcely new when Abraham 
Lincoln first claimed national attention. Printed posters featuring exagger- 
ated drawings had become devices of political satire in the eighteenth 
century, and cartoons had begun to appear in magazines as early as the 
1840s. Lincoln's physical appearance and frontier background made him 
a cartoonist's delight. He was tall, homely, frequently uncombed, and 
generally unsophisticated in dress. His youthful employment as a rail- 
splitter was widely publicized, and he was sometimes characterized as a 
rustic teller of tall stories with a decidedly middlewestern dialect. Starting 
with his rise to prominence in connection with the election of 1860. Lin- 
coln cartoons appeared frequently in weekly news and humor magazines 
political posters until his death in 1865. The selection here consists 
a few of the hundreds of Lincoln cartoons collected by The Lincoln 
ational Life Insurance Company's Library and Museum, Fort Wayne, 

"Now, Jeffy, when you think you have had 
enough of this, say so. and I'll leave off." 

These two cartoons show President Lincoln 
threatening and beating his Confederate 
counterpart. Jefferson Davis. Both cartoonists 
have utilized well known details from Lin- 
coln's youth, his skill with an ax in the draw- 
ing above and his prowess as a wrestler 
in the lower sketch. 

The cartoon at the left cele- 
brates Lincoln's re-election in 
1864. Even in this sympa- 
thetic cartoon, one of the 
President's physical charac- 
teristics, his great height, is 


This poster cartoon, produced by Currier & Ives during Lincoln's campaign for re-election in 
1864, offers some caustic criticism of the President and several cabinet members. Lincoln himself 
is condemned for his penchant for telling funny stories in cabinet meetings. Others subjected to the 
cartoonist's scorn are (left to right around the back of the table) Treasury Secretary Fessenden 
who authorizes additional paper money to finance the war, War Secretary Stanton who over- 
publicizes a minor victory, Secretary of State Seward who is quick to react to criticism, and Navy 
Secretary Welles who is simply pictured as inept. The two men in the foreground are profiteering 
government contractors. 



This kindly portrayal of Lincoln shows him 
seated on a camp stool and writing on a 
drumhead in Richmond soon after the capi- 
tal of the Confederacy had been captured in 
April, 1865. His message: "All seems well 
with us." By the time the drawing reached 
the readers of Harper's Weekly, however, 
the President already had been assassinated. 

r.< Lincoln 

Life ,.